Bruce Weber’s Kansas State Wildcat basketball team can take big step to hush critics when they open Big 12 Conference play on Friday. A win over Texas at Bramlage Coliseum should be a given.
The ‘Cats 11-1 start is the team’s best start since going 11-1 to begin the 2011-12 season. Texas is a very mediocre 6-5.
The Wildcats were picked to finish 9th in the ten-team Big 12. Texas was selected third.
Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams in the poll and the university in Douglas County received a unanimous nine first-place votes and a total of 81 points.
West Virginia was second in the poll receiving 65 points, followed by Texas (59), Iowa State (56) and Baylor (53). Oklahoma was sixth with 40 points, while Oklahoma State and Texas Tech tied for seventh with 32 points.
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Kansas State (20) and TCU (12) rounded out the preseason poll.
I didn’t agree with the poll when it was released in October and considering the 11-1 start, the Wildcats have shown they are better than what conference coaches predicted.
Critics say the Wildcats need to earn a trip the NCAA tournament or big changes are necessary. This team has an uphill climb to reach that goal but they certainly have the talent.
The KenPom rankings, the comprehensive system giving a true indication of how good or bad a basketball team is, list the ‘Cat’s at 31.
That is certainly good enough to go dancing in March.
However, they must get off to a good start in Friday’s home opener- even with students away on holiday break.
Six times this season the Wildcats have held an opponent to 55 points or fewer and in the nine of the 12 games the Wildcat defense has limited an opponent to 40 percent or less shooting from the field.
Barry Brown and senior D. J. Johnson lead the team in scoring at 12.5 and 12 points respectively a game.
Wesley Iwundu will get his points. He’s averaging just over 11 a game. Kamau Stokes and Xavier Sneed are averaging 10 a game.
With good team defense and a balanced scoring attack, these ‘Cats are destined to have a great conference season.